Jill Scott Hammersmith Apollo 2023 Review Soul Gigs Live Show Reviews. Date Posted: 23 August 2023
Words escape me but i did promise a review. I feel uplifted. What a show. Scintillating which is the type of show I have come to expect from the generational talent that is #jillscott. The last show at the same venue in London was awful. No need to revisit the reasons why as all is forgiven .
Just about managed to get a few drinks in before the venue staff announced to take your seats. The imperious looking Jill Scott started off with I think it was Hate on me from The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol 3, could be wrong. In any event not the greatest way to start what was heralded as the 25th anniversary of her debut Who is Jill Scott (pandemic caused us to wait an extra two years). Actually I have to go against the grain and say that intro set us up perfectly for the Philly songstress to tell the audience in her delicate voice that she will be playing her debut from start to finish, cue gasps of anticipation and adoration from the audience.
Second sold out show in a row by AEG and fans were already in the palm of her hands before the chime of the bells of “do you remember me came in” to rapturous approval.
Wasn’t long before Jill was telling us about that exclusive loving she’d been receiving on “exclusively”. Taking the opportunity to mock inflation by ringing up her shopping bill orange juice $10, milk $15.
Her full US band effortlessly took us into “getting in the way” one of the loudest cheers of the night, crowd sang word for word of course. The album you see encapsulates a moment in time that is special for many. She really was playing the album in its actual running order and the crowd loved it, positive energy running through Scott directly to her audience.
“Long Walk” up next and as the hits keep coming. Something new for Jill was the dancers that flittered in and out of the set at poignant moments. A friend of mine that went to North Sea Jazz in Amsterdam the wkd before which was part of the routing said she didn’t get it. I disagree and as a guy not really into that type of thing, I thought it was different. Two dancers were talented and added a different dimension that I’ve not personally seen during a show of this type.
“I think it’s better” interlude gave a moment for Jill to calm things down as she let her main keyboard player take front and centre. Jill did give his name but I missed it. Talented brother who she also refers to as “clean spirit”. Mesmerising.
Jill, blinged up dressed in a sequenced outfit looking as confident and bold as ever takes us into “he loves me” (featured video). I’m in my element lol. I don’t think these deep dulcet out of tune tones have sang so much at a live show, but I stopped caring for a few which is unusual for my reserved ass lol.
“It’s love hyped things up as Jill belted out do you want it on your collard greens, on your black eye pea. Sensational stuff.
Another unusual prop for this type of show was a large screen at the rear documenting her life and providing social commentary. I liked it. It was in your face, yet subtle enough not to detract from her performance.
Time for the Hammersmith Apollo choir (audience) to go into overdrive on “ The Way” where Jill confesses tonight she’s gonna beat her high score. For me this is what live music is all about. Momentarily nothing else mattered just pure musical bliss and the type of energy you wish you could just bottle up and open it at will. Worth every penny in view. Like therapy.
Big screens show images of what I assume to be honey molasses (I’m not American lol) but it was sizzling with innuendo.
“Love rain” followed. At this point I thought how amazing would it be for Mos Def to come out who she famously duetted with on the remix. Wasn’t to be.
Jill takes a moment to engage with her audience and encourages her audience to surround themselves with good people and cut out the negative people.
“Slowly surely” an unheralded beauty from the album sounds immaculate.
“One is the magic #” with those Spanish vibes coming thought I recognised the flute playing 2nd keyboard player. Jill introduces him as “this black man plays flute”. I know him to be Damon Bennett who also spent some time as the musical director for Kindred.
I like it when artists uplift. Some through their voice but Jill being a poet first and foremost her words are so powerful. She references Rodney King and how it inspired her to write a stirring rendition of the national anthem but with her own twist at the tender age of 19. A stunning and show stopping vocal performance. The oppressed inside were up on their feet.
A singer I spoke to when leaving thought the sound was not great. From where I was sat upstairs it sounded fine. From what I can see from the audience everyone was in their element.
She .tells the audience that she refuses to believe the narrative that “brothas are no good”. This is where I think the backdrop was a great addition as she was able to showcase some outstanding individuals which I feel emphasised her point. Historical giants. Powerful black men that has made significant contributions.
By now it was 10.30 and having come on at a few minutes passed 9 , I thought she was superb. How often can you say you’ve had the pleasure of listening to a truly iconic album from start to finish 25 years after its release? Loved it and shout out to the audience as well for participating so willing.
A 9 out of 10 for me. Breathtaking, conscious, fierce, sexy and uplifting. Glad I gave the benefit of the doubt. Jill Scott is back and the performance cemented the Who is Jill Scott album position as one of the top 5 greatest Soul/RnB albums of the last 25 years , proudly alongside The miseducation, Brown Sugar, Voodoo and the Urban Hang Suite. Commercial choices maybe but mercurial none the less.
The real Jill returned and I no longer feel burned